We’ve all been there. We had the best intentions of eating healthily all week and then we missed our alarm, our bus didn’t arrive on time and we forgot our carefully planned and packed lunch at home in the fridge. Add in a super busy day at the office and getting home late, and dinner becomes a hastily ordered greasy pizza. It’s difficult to stick to your healthy diet when you experience crazy busy days. But it’s not impossible. It’s a good idea to maintain a healthful diet because eating well will do everything from help you lose some pounds or stay at your current weight and ensure that you are feeling good. And who doesn’t want to feel amazing so they can get their job done every day? With this easy how-to guide on eating healthy even on the busiest of days, you will be prepared and ready.
1. Make Breakfast The Night Before
Breakfast is the most significant meal of the day, as the popular saying goes. And it’s actually true. Breakfast can help you focus, it ensures your entire diet is nutrient-rich, and it can even give you enough power to work out. Since we need all the help we can get when it comes to being able to focus at work, you should never miss out on this morning meal. So how can you ensure that no matter how much you race to get out the door in the morning you won’t skip breakfast? Simply make your breakfast the evening before. A good choice is vegan food blogger Angela Liddon’s Overnight Oats. Before you go to bed, mix together rolled oats, the milk of your choice, chia seeds, a banana and any sweetener you want. Then when you wake up just stir everything together and add whatever toppings you want. This meal is completely portable since it’s made in a mason jar, so just take the jar and a spoon with you to enjoy on your commute or at your desk when you arrive at the office.
2. Drink Your Breakfast
In smoothie form, of course. Green juices and smoothies have become very popular and now you can enjoy this healthy trend, too. A smoothie takes no more than 5 minutes to make in the a.m. so blend together your choice of fruits, a banana or some avocado, any type of milk, protein powder, and maybe some nut butter for extra filling protein and healthy fats. You can also make a smoothie before bed and keep it in a water bottle so you can drink it on your commute to work, whether you’re travelling by foot, car, train or bus. Smoothies are a good way of getting in a bunch of vitamins, minerals and nutrients since you’re enjoying a variety of fruit. And with the addition of protein powder, they’re a smarter choice rather than merely eating a banana or an apple at your desk, which won’t keep you full for very long.
3. Keep Snacks at Your Desk
If you don’t plan ahead, you won’t be able to snack in a healthful way. Instead, you’ll run to the nearest vending machine for some pretzels or chips when you’re starving at 3 p.m. It’s even easier to eat healthy if you keep some snacks at your desk, either in plain sight or in a drawer. Try a variety of fruit so you can have something different every day of the week. Some good choices are pears, bananas and, since it’s summertime, cherries. Pears are a good snack idea since they have tons of fiber which will keep you full. And as we all know, sticking to a healthy diet is all about choosing foods that curb our hunger so we don’t reach for mindless snacks. You should also keep some nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts) at your desk and grab a handful whenever your stomach starts to growl. You can also keep a jar of almond butter at your desk when you’ve got a sweet craving. Enjoy it with some whole grain or brown rice-based crackers.
4. Keep a Water Bottle On You All Day
Wherever you are -your desk, out for a lunchtime walk, out to meet a client for a business lunch- you need to stay hydrated. Sometimes we think we’re hungry and reach for junk food when we’re actually thirsty. So make sure you don’t mistake dehydration for hunger and keep a bottle of water in your bag at all times. Take several sips throughout the day and drink more if it’s super-hot or humid outside. Since you’re short on time every day you don’t need to waste time buying water at a nearby store or take-out place, carry your water bottle everywhere!
5. Pack 3 Lunches At Once
In a perfect world food would never spoil or go bad and we could plan ahead for a whole week’s worth of lunches. But, of course, that’s just not reality. So instead, pack lunches for the next three days, which will give you a leg up on your busy schedule and ensure that the food stays as fresh as possible. Healthy lunch ideas include protein-topped salads (try chickpeas, lentils, black beans, fish or chicken) or turkey chili on quinoa. The perfect lunch has lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates and, of course, vegetables. Your mom was right when she told you to eat your greens. To make lunches even simpler, buy a bunch of pre-washed, pre-shredded bags of salad or baby kale.
6. Rely on Some Good Store-bought Products
Buying a few things from the grocery store is a good compromise when we want to eat healthy but don’t have the time to make every single thing we eat from scratch. Find a low-sodium, no-sugar-added tomato sauce for easy pasta dinners. Buy a bunch of nut butters at once since they don’t go bad for ages and you won’t have to stock up when you’re running low. Always keep quinoa and black beans in your cupboard to whip up an easy vegan chili when you want a quick dinner and to bring the leftovers to work for lunch.
7. Make One Day Your Planning Day
Sunday is typically the day that people devoted to cooking a huge batch of grains or something to freeze and enjoy whenever time gets tight. Figure out which day of the week can be your own planning day and use it to cook a bunch of meals so you can freeze them, to make your lunches and to pack your snacks. You will be so glad you did when you are stuck in a meeting that makes you eat lunch at 4 p.m., without passing out from hunger thanks to your steady supply of almonds and crackers that you keep at your desk.
8. Forgive Yourself For Any Setbacks
We’re only humans and sometimes our days will get so crazy that even the best planning won’t help. This might happen once a week or it could happen once a month, but either way, don’t beat yourself up over any take-out Chinese order or a pizza lunch. You can just get back on track the next day.
Healthy eating and a busy schedule don’t have to be enemies. In fact, they can work beautifully together if you plan ahead and ensure you always have your lunches and snacks packed and ready to go. The key is to be prepared and drink lots of water throughout the day so you don’t mistake being thirsty for being starved. Follow this simple how-to guide and you will be able to keep your energy levels high and your mood up even on your busiest days.